A federal judge on Tuesday granted a preliminary injunction against New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers after a group of 17 Christian medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, protested in a lawsuit that the mandate violated their religious freedom by not allowing employers to consider religious exemptions.

U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd issued a new order blocking the New York health department from rejecting employer-approved religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate enacted on Aug. 26. It comes as a similar order issued in September was set to expire. 

“The question presented by this case is not whether plaintiffs and other individuals are entitled to a religious exemption from the State’s workplace vaccination requirement,” Hurd wrote in his ruling. “Instead, the question is whether the State’s summary imposition of § 2.61 conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’ federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers.” 

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